Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Wait, Work and Have Faith

I made a mistake not wearing long-johns today, totally deceived by the partially sunny weather after 2 days of nasty cold rain.

Didn’t somebody just remind me that we’ve just passed “立春” (3 days ago to be exact), traditionally the mark of the beginning of spring according Chinese lunar calendar? Where in the world is the sign and scent of spring?!? Not a slight sight of it at all I can assure you …

Yet another day of typical Chinese busyness – morning conference call, followed by a emergency request for a bio write-up and fixing of some power point slides. I thought working for a MNC would resolve the prevalent problem of last-minute requests and change of plans, but I guess nowadays, anything that has the slightest relations to do with work/training/personnel in China here cannot avoid this stressful firefighter type of work-life style, even for the MNCs.

Then the grading begins. There are always great surprises and joys in reading through my students’ essays, but there are also the same old, repetitive grammatical mistakes and writing problems that I can never finish correcting. “What is your thesis?” “What is your main point?” “Could you make a better argument around the facts/statistics that you’ve gathered?” “Please give me your sources and citations otherwise I’d have to consider this a plagiarized piece!!!” These comments have to be written, over and over again.

“教學相長”, as the old Chinese saying goes (= to teach is to learn; teaching benefits the one who teaches and the one who learns just as much). Over this past year, again and again I see the truth to this saying. It is often through the eyes of my students that I see the innermost part of their thoughts and mentality. More than plenty are the aspects and experiences that I thought I did know but in fact I did not. Never have I recalled such vivid details and felt such a deep sense of longing for all the long-forgotten people, resources, the beliefs, passions, and visions that constituted the core of my own undergrad and grad education.

I’ve been given the great privilege and fortune to be educated in some of the best educational institutes in the world. It pains me to see the grave distance between what I had before and what my students are currently getting from the university here. And regardless of how hard I try to recreate a similar educational experience in class, I only have 24 hours a day, 4 classes a term, and a capacity to teach 150 students max a semester without any TA or admin support. There remain too many factors outside my control and power that I know that some fundamental changes can only be patiently waited for and step-by-step built towards.

Education is so much about faith. Faith for not knowing which portions of the seeds that you spread are going to bud and grow, flourish and prosper, yet also faith in knowing that a number of them – as small as it may be – will for sure rise to become, again, a number of the very few who make a number of very monumental changes for a better world tomorrow.

I’ve got friends who told me they don’t miss any teachers they’ve had or recall any teacher who’s made a difference in their lives. But I can recall every teacher/professor who’s opened my eyes to see the wonders of this world and the beauty of humanity, and I think I’m very lucky because I need at least both of my hands to count the number of teachers who’s created that impact in my life.

Thanks to them, I’m able to continue what I’m doing today, everyday, and believe in the ultimate value of it.

30 years, though, I estimate, for this land to finally offer to the next generation what I’d enjoyed and been blessed with during my past 30 years of educational experiences.

At least I’ll just be around the age of retirement. And I hope I’ll be able to retire in peace, knowing that I’ve contributed a small or large piece of what that 30 years of development may need.

Let’s wait patiently while work diligently and have faith in what is yet to come.

梅ちゃん at 11:26:00 PM



at 3/10/12, 1:07 AM Blogger Mini said...

It is always enjoyable to read your words with peace and politeness. Hope one day I can be one seed that prospers and changes the world. I have faith in myself and I know you do as well. Love, Mini.


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